Have you ever had your heart stolen, I mean literally taken away? Well…I did when I visited the Girls Home of Pune last month. As soon as I walked through the door of the Girls Home and met the precious young girls, I was immediately greeted by several outstretched hands as they asked, “What is your name?” Who wouldn’t be captivated by their smiling faces and giggles?
After a brief introduction, the girls shared several dance performances and sang some songs in English and Marathi, both of which were very impressive! Soon after, they asked me if I wanted to do an activity or play a game with the girls! How could I resist?! As a teacher, I always come prepared with a game (or two) in my bag so I taught the girls how to play… BINGO! The girls sat in several groups around the room and we played many different rounds together! It was truly a delightful experience and certainly one that I will never forget!
During the evening, I also had a chance to meet and talk with Vidhya, the Girls Home chief caretaker, and Megha, the new warden. I was thrilled to meet them both in person and happy with their willingness to be flexible since I was interrupting the girls’ normal routine! During this initial meeting, it was evident that the girls were well-loved and taken care of by Pastor Joseph and the Girls Home staff members. By observing how the staff members interacted with the girls, I could tell that they were dedicated to loving the girls and training them up in the ways of the Lord.
The next day, I went back to the Girls Home to share a story called Elephants Never Forget! As I was reading in English, Jyoti translated the story for me in Marathi so the girls could understand. It was so much fun showing them the pictures and practicing our elephant trumpet sounds together! They were so polite and attentive; I wish I had brought many more stories to share, but there is always next time! Then I had the chance to teach them the Books of the Bible Song in English! We watched a video and practiced a few times together as I tried to help them pronounce some of the difficult names in English. They were very interested to learn the names in English and I told them that we would continue to practice this song in the future! After spending just a few days with these precious girls they started calling me didi, which means big sister in Hindi. I was so honored to be called this name by them as I also considered them to be my new little darling sisters! Needless to say, it was remarkable to meet all of the girls for the first time; this meeting was something that I had been dreaming about since the inception of the Girls Home back in 2012 and I treasured every minute that I spent with them!
During my visit, I also had an opportunity to teach a Bible study to a group of women from the neighborhood and some of the older girls from the Girls Home. Every Saturday evening, the women have a meeting which consists of a time of worship, Bible study, and prayer. With Jyoti’s help I shared a lesson about how we can use our gifts, talents, and five senses to glorify Christ. It was an absolute blessing to be able to teach these women and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. They ministered to my heart in such a powerful way as well! Before leaving on Sunday, I also attended my first church service in the Pune Center; it was such a blessing to see the congregation worshiping the Lord and fellowshipping together in this new place! In the afternoon, I also had a chance to teach the Sunday school lesson to the girls and some local children in the new facility. The children sang songs and worshiped the Lord with such heartfelt devotion! Then I shared a Bible lesson with them about Abraham and his devotion to God. I wanted to encourage them to always be patient and to trust in God’s promises, no matter what challenges life brings.
Before leaving, I also had a chance to pray with the girls and Vidhya. She asked for specific prayer for the girls and their studies in school. Please also continue to pray for Vidhya, Megha, the cooks and other Girls Home staff members- they sincerely covet our prayers for strength and endurance to take care of all the basic needs for the 25 girls every day.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” ~Psalm 127:13-14
My second trip to Pune was transformative, to say the least. I felt privileged to return to Pune, to what I consider my home away from home, in order to see my family and friends. I was also thrilled to see all of the changes that have taken place over the past four years: the Pune Center is now almost finished; the KSOM Bible College continues to grow and has added more programs; and the Girls Home of Pune opened its doors to 25 special young girls! Only the Lord knows what the future holds for our church family in Pune; however, this I know for sure, I want to continue being a part of this incredible ministry in any way that I can!
After returning to the U.S. from my first trip to India, I shared my experiences with the congregation at my church and encouraged everyone to do one or all of the following things: 1.) Pray forthe ministry; 2.) Go to India and serve; and/or 3.) Give tothe ministry. If you feel called to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Pune, please do not hesitate to contact me or India Connection about how you can get involved in the India ministry. I can assure you that when you travel to India, your gifts and talents will be used in ways far beyond what you ever imagined. You do not need to have a special degree or specific qualifications- you just have to have an open heart that is willing and ready to serve our Lord. I promise you that just by stepping out in faith you will have a life-changing experience that will impact many lives for years to come…just ask anyone who has served in India before! As you continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Pune and all across India, please consider what you can offer to this ministry!
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” ~ Isaiah 6:8~
I look forward to keeping all of you posted during my future visits to Pune over the next few months!
Your sister in Christ,